Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, and Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, on Thursday introduced legislation that would forgive small business loans made under the CARES Act in counties hard-hit by Hurricanes Sally and Laura.
The Disaster Relief for Southeastern Small Businesses Act of 2020 would establish a process for businesses in counties with major disaster declarations from Hurricane Sally to seek forgiveness for Paycheck Protection Program loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, according to a press release from Jones’s office.
“As folks across South Alabama begin the work to recover and rebuild after Hurricane Sally, I believe Congress should be assisting them in any way we can,” Jones said in a statement. “That’s why I’m joining Senator Kennedy, from our neighbor Louisiana, to introduce bipartisan legislation that ensures small businesses impacted by Hurricanes Sally and Laura can benefit from loan forgiveness for COVID-19 relief programs.”
“Alabama’s Main Street businesses have struggled already during the pandemic, and Hurricane Sally is yet another devastating hit. This legislation will cut through government red tape and allow forgiveness of business loans received as part of our CARES legislation as they continue to re-open and re-build. It is one way we can help them survive these compounding disasters and continue to serve our communities and create jobs,” Jones continued.
To qualify under the program, impacted businesses would have to provide their lenders with a form stating they used the loans as intended in order to receive loan forgiveness. The Small Business Administration would have the authority to review and audit forgiven loans, according to the release.
Alabama businesses received $6.2 billion in PPP loans, which closed at the end of Aug. 8. As of that time, there had been a total of 41,243 EIDL loans totaling $1.84 billion issued to small businesses in Alabama.
Jones in May called for increased guidance and loan forgiveness for small businesses that applied for PPP loans.
In April, he supported legislation to replenish PPP funds and gave additional relief to Alabama’s small businesses. Jones also introduced legislation in May to fund payrolls of eligible businesses to help business owners cover workers’ wages during the pandemic.